Developer: Greg Sergeant
Format: PC (browser/flash)
Use Boxmen is an interesting concept. It was most certainly done right, albeit a little short. By a little short I mean really short for those who know how all of the puzzles work. That's something I learned from replaying. Use Boxmen is a puzzle platformer game based all around making clones of yourself, and working with them to get to the end of the level. Sounds simple enough, does it not? Well it's not.
How you solve each puzzle always has to do with some function of the different types of clones you can make. Depending on what you're doing while you make the clone the clone will be doing something different. What it does may not be very obvious at first, either. If you're running and make one, the clone will simple be running. If you make one that just stands there, it can also make the running ones go the other direction. If you're crouching you'll make one that is crouching as well, but also bounces the running ones.
You have a limited amount of clones with a varying amount allotted to you each level, sort of working as a hint. Resetting is easy and almost never sets you back too far, so you might end up doing is a lot as you're trying to figure out what to do, spamming all sorts of clone set-ups to try and find which one works. There is a lot of trial and error.
Puzzles can involve things like spike blocks, buttons, levers, and other basic puzzle platformer things. You have to start thinking with clones in order to maximize the full potential of each of these objects. A great example of this wound be with the static electricity generator, which moves a platform whenever something is moving around it. You have to ride the platform up as you have one clone running past the generator over and over to make power, and one so that the running one can bounce off of him after bouncing off the wall.
Puzzles with these mechanics can take some time your first time through. Some require insane timing and precision that I wouldn't want to pull off again. This game is mostly puzzle based but with some levels you can figure out the solution quickly, but then there's the problem of enacting that solution. Even after looking at the walkthrough I found it hard to pull some bits off.
The narrative is done in the simple sentence or two between each level sort of style. It's short and really conveys no plot other than "Boxman gets boxes" but still retains a charm similar to other games that do narrative like this but unique enough as it's own narrative none the less.
The aesthetics are truly where this game shine, with brilliant visuals and music to match. The visuals are gorgeous. The player character and their clones look so adorable and are animated so well, having a sort of shakiness to the animation style. The levels themselves are all hand drawn as well, so it all looks cohesive when thrown together. The background is a good one too, as it looks like it's done with a kindergardener's art tools. It's a simple color with simple clouds. It's this child-like innocence that the visuals portray that makes everything so adorable.
The music is the perfect thing to compliment this. It's synth pieces are pepped up, excited, and happy-go-lucky, shocking the vibe with one heck of a happy feeling. The more acoustic pieces tend to be slower and more emotional, and cool off the tone of everything. The more synth pieces hype you up to get you thinking, while the acoustic ones cool you off and just allow you some room to think on your own. It's a pretty beautiful combination, especially when you're just sitting there and trying to figure things out, not doing much other than listening to the music anyways.
While Use Boxmen has a great concept that it executes quite beautifully, it doesn't do so for long. There are only 13 somewhat short levels. Then again, I didn't even realize how small it was due to each one taking some time to think through my first time around. I wouldn't consider it a one trick pony, but it is a pony that once you've seen a trick from you remember it.
But hey, all in all this game is still a unique find. It might me short, but not really during your first run through. It's got great things like the aesthetics and design to back that up, so if you're looking for a fun, free, casual puzzle game, then why not use some boxmen in Use Boxmen?
Play Use Boxmen HERE